The point being, I have a really hard time getting to gray. I do often see things as good or evil, right or wrong, true or false, love or hate. Only recently, when my therapist casually mentioned that seeing things as only black or white is an immature way to look at the world (in his defense I’d not yet shared with him my attachment to those contrasting colors) that I started to rethink this view.
See I’d always figured that it is best to simplify whenever possible. Things go much smoother if everything is 1s or 0s, and heck knows I’d be perfectly content to live my life in binary code. But, I’m not that lucky. I live in a world where grey is the new black and I’m one season behind the trends.
Dr. Charles H. Elliott wrote this great post on Anxiety & OCD Exposed, one of PsychCentral’s blogs, about just this topic and includes a technique for dealing with it. Often those who see the world as black or white feel that being right is all that matters:
When potential for conflict or disagreement arises, anxiety may cause you to think you must “win” the argument. And if you don’t win, you obviously must lose.
Unfortunately, such thinking makes you seem defensive in response to criticism and overly aggressive when you need to be critical of someone else.
I can do gray… I can do middle ground… “It’s not that you’re wrong and I’m right. You’re right, I’m just more right.” Hmm, I have a feeling I still have a way to go on this one.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness does these great walks all over the country to help raise money and awareness about mental illness. If there is one near you that you can take part in, I strongly encourage it. And if you can’t take part and you know someone walking, donating to sponsor them is always a great way to show your support!
There’s a map you can use to find a walk near you so check it out.
I just came across this great post on Depression on My Mind, a PsychCentral blog by Christine Stapleton. After watching the movie Up In The Air and thinking about the leading character’s life, she drafted a post about solitude, a common topic for those of us living with depression. As someone who often enjoys sitting at home alone, it certainly spoke to me.
I am sure a lot of people watched this movie and thought, what a pathetic, lonely life this man has. I watched it and thought, wow, what an awesome life! Solitude with frequent flier miles! Right on.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where many of us folks with depression differ from you.
Her post reminded me of this great quote by author Charles Caleb Colton, “To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since these are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet.”
We all have things that stress us out – things that bother us, problems we feel we need to solve. We believed Voltaire’s words, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” We were wrong.
Some people are the sort to deal with things head on. I’d say I am definitely one of those people – often to my detriment. I get extremely frustrated when I feel like a situation needs to be addressed but doing so is not in my control. (the control thing again, I know, I know). I was once told by my managers at work that I am a problem solver. My need for control, my tendencies to ruminate and my over attachment to perfection actually make me a great problem solver. It makes me a horrible problem letter-goer. Holding on to a problem you can’t solve is different than holding a grudge. With grudges you can direct your anger or frustration at someone. Healthy or not there is an outlet for some of those feelings.
With the unsolvable problem or the unresolvable issue, knowing is half the battle. Knowing, of course, that said problem is indeed unsolvable. Logic 101. But for many of us who live with mental illness, knowing that – really knowing it, isn’t as easy as it may sound. Afterall, it is much easier to just let ourselves believe any of a number of other things that fit better with our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us.
‘Stinkin thinkin’ about problems:
Somehow we have to distance ourselves from these thoughts and focus on what’s really going on. Often the problem can’t be solved, and any amount of smarts, effort, focus, obsessing, ruminating or sustained thinking can’t fix it. It is not meant to be fixed, and you just have to walk away.
I can deal with things I can’t handle, but I can’t handle the things I deal with…
Active Minds is a great organization that focuses on mental health on college campuses. Right now they are working on a campus tour of their Send Silence Packing suicide awareness program which won one of Pepsi’s Refresh Everything grants.
The site includes videos about the Active Minds vision and of some of their speakers bureau members, including these moving stories from Jordan Burnham